Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

<em>Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets</em>

Luc Besson's latest space opera, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, puts us in the 28th century, with special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

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Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

TASM2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 picks up not to far after the events of the first film. While still feeling the effects from the climax of the first film, Peter has fully embraced being Spider-Man. The film looks amazing (not pun intended), from the wide shots of Spider-Man swinging throughout to the slow motion scenes that invoke the comic panels of the character's roots. The 3D effect and interesting point-of-view shots make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster. The suit itself is the best live action adaptation of Spider-Man’s classic costume. It looks like something that this character made and not like something that was produced at an Under Armor factory.

The action is great, with the Times Square scene and final act being real standouts. They act as elaborate set pieces to illustrate what Spider-Man is truly capable of doing with his unique abilities. These scenes had me grinning from ear to ear and left me wishing there was either a little more action or a little less exposition in the second act. Remember the marketing campaign for the first The Amazing Spider-Man movie that promised to tell “the untold story” of Peter’s past, yet that story continued to be untold in the film? Well it’s all here in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This is both good and bad. It’s an interesting story and closes a few plot threads left dangling in the first film. However, because it’s all crammed into this one, it throws the pacing off and makes the second act of the film feel a little bloated.

My only other major gripe is the villains. Not there are too many of them, but I am personally not a fan of the majority of Spider-Man’s villains. I admit that this is a personal gripe so feel free to take my criticisms with a grain of salt.

Paul Giamatti is in the movie. That’s all I have to say because that’s about how long he was in the film.

Jaime Foxx plays Max Dillon, an electrical engineer at Oscorp that, after an accident is transformed into the energy sucking, lightning throwing Electro. Foxx’s performance is good as the gauche and unappreciated Max that, after being saved by Spider-Man becomes obsessed and subsequently, mentally unhinged. From his glowing skin that radiates blue light, to the modulated effect in his voice, Electro is a spectacle to behold. The film wants you to sympathize with Max but the character just seems to be a glorified thug. He’s no criminal genius, or despicably evil. Nor is he all that tragic of a villain. He comes off as just a crazy guy whose only motivation is blind vengeance, directed at the wrong person.

One character I do find interesting in the Spider-Man universe is Peter’s best friend Harry Osborne, in this film played by Dane DeHaan. When coming home from an overseas trip, Harry visits his estranged father who tells him that he has inherited a degenerative disease and is dying. Harry theorizes that Spider-Man’s blood will likely cure him. Harry must find a way to stay alive while managing his family’s corporation. DeHann’s plays a wonderful portrayal of Harry as charming, spoiled, and creepy. Their relationship might feel a little forced but DeHann and Garfield play well against each other as best friends trying to become friends again. I wish there was a little more of Harry, but that’s what sequels are for.

One relationship that doesn’t feel forced is that of Peter and Gwen. Garfield and Stone continue to share the same chemistry that made them an adorable couple in the first film. These character moments are what truly endear us to them. You feel glad for them during their highs and sad for them during their lows. Individually, Emma Stone is the perfect counterpart to Peter. While she unfortunately serves the overall purpose of being one of Peter’s motivation forces throughout the film, she isn’t relegated to just some damsel in constant distress. She is a fully formed character that we root for throughout the film.

Many have complained that Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker is too confident and not nerdy enough. Well, nowadays, nerd is the new cool and I would argue that Garfield’s Peter Parker is perfect for this modern day retelling of the Spider-Man story. When the mask is on, he is everything that we want Spidey to be: funny, lovable, a motor mouth, and a bit of a dick. Yet, he can be serious when the time calls for it. Any actor that can emote while wearing a full-body suit deserves praise.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not without its flaws. There is a lot going on in the film as it sets us up for something sinister in the future. But this the best Spider-Man film to date and certainly worth your time.

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